A Treatise on Northern Ireland, Volume I: Colonialism

ISBN : 9780198869801

Brendan O'Leary
560 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Nov 2020
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Winner of the James S. Donnelly, Sr. Prize from the American Conference for Irish Studies An Irish Times Book of the Year 2019.

This first volume in A Treatise on Northern Ireland illuminates how British colonialism shaped the formation and political cultures of what became Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State. Contrasting colonial and sectarianized accounts of modern Irish history, Brendan O'Leary shows that a judicious meld of these perspectives provides a properly political account of direct and indirect rule, and of administrative and settler colonialism. The British state incorporated Ulster and Ireland into a deeply unequal Union after four re-conquests over two centuries had successively defeated the Ulster Gaels, the Catholic Confederates, the Jacobites, and the United Irishmen-and their respective European allies. Founded as a union of Protestants in Great Britain and Ireland, rather than of the British and the Irish nations, the colonial and sectarian Union was infamously punctured in the catastrophe of the Great Famine. The subsequent mobilization of Irish nationalists and Ulster unionists, and two republican insurrections amid the cataclysm and aftermath of World War I, brought the now partly democratized Union to an unexpected end, aside from a shrunken rump of British authority, baptized as Northern Ireland. Home rule would be granted to those who had claimed not to want it, after having been refused to those who had ardently sought it. The failure of possible federal reconstructions of the Union and the fateful partition of the island are explained, and systematically compared with other British colonial partitions. Northern Ireland was invented, in accordance with British interests, to resolve the 'hereditary animosities' between the descendants of Irish natives and British settlers in Ireland. In the long run, the invention proved unfit for purpose. Indispensable for explaining contemporary institutions and mentalities, this volume clears the path for the intelligent reader determined to understand contemporary Northern Ireland.


Volume 1: Colonialism
The Shackles of the State and Hereditary Animosities
List of Figures
List of Maps
List of Tables
List of Boxes
Abbreviations and Glossary
1 An Audit of Violence after 1966
2 Conceptual Conspectus: Colonialism
3 Wild and Bitter Fruits and His Majesty's Royal Pains: Colonial Triangles and Trilemmas, 1603-1800
4 Overlooked by the Tall Kingdom before Dying of Political Economy: Ireland under the Union, 1801-1857
5 Crying Aloud for Vengeance and the Power of a Colonial Caste: Toward Union's End, 1858-1914
6 'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sud-El-Bar: Revolution and Counter-Revolution, 1914-1922
7 Scratches across the Heart: Comparing Ireland's Partition

About the author: 

Brendan O'Leary is the Lauder Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and World Leading Researcher Visiting Professor of Political Science at Queen's University Belfast. He is the inaugural winner of the Juan Linz Prize of the International Political Science Association for lifetime contributions to the study of federalism, democratization, and multinational states, and was recently elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and to Membership of the US Council on Foreign Relations. Educated in Northern Ireland, Oxford, and the London School of Economics & Political Science he advised parties and governments during and after the making of the Good Friday Agreement. His extensive publications include Power-Sharing in Deeply Divided Places (co-editor, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), The Northern Ireland Conflict (OUP, 2004), and Explaining Northern Ireland (co-author, Blackwell, 1995).

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